TRUST Act clears committee as immigration reform heats up nationally

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Arrestees' fingerprints are automatically sent to ICE.
PHOTO BY VINCE ALONGI VIA FLICKR

It was late at night by the time New Latthivongskorn, then 22, finally started to make his way home from the University of California Berkeley campus after a long night of studying for midterm exams.  A third year molecular and cell biology major who was trying to keep up his grades in preparation for med school applications, Latthivongskorn said he noticed a man in a black hooded sweatshirt walking toward him as he approached his home. At first he didn’t think much of it – but just as he was about to unlock the door to his apartment, the young Thai student heard a voice. “Give me everything you’ve got,” the man commanded.

“I looked at him, and I looked down, and I saw a gun pointed straight at me,” Latthivongskorn recounted. Terrified, he tried to stay calm and simply cooperated; handing over his backpack and cell phone, silently feeling relieved that he hadn’t been carrying his laptop. Fortunately, Latthivongskorn was able to proceed into his apartment unscathed after the man who robbed him at gunpoint vanished down the street.

When his concerned housemate asked if he wanted to file a police report, Latthivongskorn faced a dilemma. “Yes, I wanted to report it,” he told the Guardian in a phone interview, “for me, but also for the community. That same man ended up mugging another individual later that night.”

But there was a problem. Latthivongskorn had moved with his family from Bangkok to Sacramento when he was just nine years old – and despite the fact that his entire life was rooted in California, he’d never obtained U.S. citizenship. Any interaction with police, he feared, could place him in jeopardy – even if he was approaching law enforcement as a crime victim.

“In the end, I couldn’t call,” he said. “What was going through my mind was thinking of all the sacrifices that my family had made for me … and I worked so hard to get to this point, and I’m still not there yet.” His decision not to report the armed robbery came down to “the simple fact that it could all end – that I could get deported.”

Fast-forward to today, and Latthivongskorn has graduated and earned a spot on the waitlist at Stanford while he awaits responses from a number of other med schools. He’s also active with ASPIRE, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education.

On April 9, he shared his experience of being mugged with California legislators at a hearing of the Public Safety Committee, and urged lawmakers to approve the TRUST Act.

Authored by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, the bill seeks to “limit harmful deportations often stemming from trivial or discriminatory arrests,” according to a statement from Ammiano’s office.

As things stand, all arrestees have their fingerprints recorded and submitted to ICE, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the federal Secure Communities program, ICE can then direct local law enforcement to hold arrestees without bail, beyond the time they’d be detained under normal circumstances, for the purposes of immigration proceedings.

The idea is to hold and deport dangerous criminals, but in practice it’s proved problematic. “More than 90,000 Californians have been deported, with 70 percent not convicted of anything, or only of lesser crimes," Ammiano’s office points out. “Some were never charged with crimes, and some were crime victims.”

The TRUST Act would “establish a statewide policy that says if the person has not been convicted of a serious or violent felony, they would no longer be held any longer than authorities would hold them otherwise,” explained Carlos Alcalá, a spokesperson for Ammiano. The idea is to draw a distinction between violent or serious offenders, and anyone else who could be swept up in the system and needlessly held without bail.

Also on hand to testify at the April 9 hearing was Ruth Montaño, a Bakersfield woman who was arrested and nearly deported after someone complained that her dog was barking too loud.

Alcalá recounted other horror stories that had made their way to the Capitol. There was the day laborer whose employer reported him to immigration authorities at the end of his shift when all he was expecting was a day’s wage, and the woman who was arrested outside of Walmart for trespassing – and nearly deported – for selling tamales. Then there were women who reported incidents of domestic violence only to be subjected to immigration proceedings (and their counterparts, who stayed mum about abuse because they feared deportation).

Members of the Public Safety Committee approved the TRUST Act 4-2, clearing the way for the bill to go to the floor of the Assembly as early as next week. An earlier version made its way to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown last year, but was ultimately vetoed, leading to a revised version. “Because of last session’s history, we’re hoping to have more substantive discussions with the governor beforehand,” Alcalá told the Guardian.

The timing is significant. “Immigration changes are moving quickly at the national level,” Ammiano noted, “and California needs to make changes here to keep pace.”

Advocates expect a national proposal for immigration reform to be introduced in the Senate any day now, according to Jon Rodney of the California Immigrant Policy Center. West Coast activists are planning an event April 10 to mirror a mass rally and march for immigration reform planned in D.C.

In San Francisco, the march will begin outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office on Post Street and then proceed to Civic Center, where a rally is planned for 5 p.m. Latthivongskorn plans to participate along with other organizers from ASPIRE, and a host of local and regional immigration reform advocates are getting involved.

Those joining the march “will carry 1,000 paper flowers,” Rodney said, “to represent 1,000 deportations that happen every day in the U.S. That’s one piece of Wednesday’s rally, is stopping deportations.”

Comments

refutes those who claim that I am some right-wing reactionary paid to post here.

The US has always gained from fairly liberal immigration policies, as does our economy where immigrants have always helped our businesses contain costs and expand in an affordable way.

And of course immigration also confers diversity on our community. SF has benefitted, in particular, from it's Pacific location which has ensured a vibrant influx of people from Asia, many of whom now hold leadership positions in our community.

So, while indiscriminant immigration policy is effectively not a policy at all, I welcome a rappochment towards our illegals, and hope a compromise can be negotiated.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

As you are posting under the anonymous "Guest," how would anyone be able to form any judgments about you, let alone make accusations that you are a right-wing shill?

But, perhaps you are THE "Guest" that has been posting all over the Internet for the past several years.

Posted by Chris on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 12:16 am

Anyone can be "Chris" just like anyone can be "Guest".

No difference.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

a deluded individual would describe himself as "deft". This is probably the same person who judges his own debates.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 7:31 am

Economic conservatives support unlimited immigration as a way to drive down tech wages in those few remaining sectors where wages have not been decimated.

Social conservatives oppose immigration out of xenophobia and racism.

Economic progressives oppose immigration that drives down wages.

Social progressives support immigration for cultural diversity.

This is not very complicated at all, yet we're seeing social progressives aligning with economic conservatives to serve relatively narrow interests in immigration reform.

And progressives wonder why they fail to gain traction at the ballot box.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 8:42 am

simply are not very many of them. When was the last progressive SF mayor? One-term Agnos. I rest my case - even in "progressive" SF, progressives cannot win.

Immigration specifically on tech workers on H-1B visa's presents no problem except to those who want artificial shortages to prop up their inflated wages.

Posted by anon on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 11:25 am

H1-B artificially increases the number of workers to drive down domestic wages, that is class warfare.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

Every western nation has a similar policy. It promotes global trade and relations, while serving to prevent vested interests feathering their own nests by suppressing competition.

What is artificial is trying to close down immigration opportunities to non-whites just so some ageing uncompetitive whites here can try and maintain their bloated pay structures thru a thinly-veiled form of racism.

Posted by anon on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

Given the immigration regime in the US, there are special carve outs for immigrants that drive down wages. Wall Street would have it no other way.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

of providing more workers chasing each job. Not man would accept that argument, nor that it is a bad job.

And after all, those extra people are also consumers, and so create more jobs. America has welcomed immigrants for centuries, and the fact that you are scared because you know you are overpaid is not a reason to change federal policy, nor for you be be anti-Asian.

Posted by anon on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

The US welcomed more immigrants during climates of economic and natural resource abundance. Thanks to the Reaganites and the Democrats who adopted his economic sharia, there will be no more economic abundance for American workers. Our house is on fire. Our folks are hurting. Until we take care of our own, put our fire out and make sure that everyone is housed and fed, we can't really afford any new immigrants other than those who will do the jobs that folks already here won't.

That is in our enlightened self interest.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

Marc, I don't know if you've noticed it or not, but the white population in the this country is rapidly aging. By the year 2050, those 65 years and older will comprise over 20% of the population in the U.S. This "graying of America" has led some analysts to forecast "America's declining eminence". Parag Khanna, an international relations expert, predicts that the U.S. will be "lucky to eke out a meager existence between a triumphant China" and a "retooled Europe."

But even as your generation ages, the population of young workers in the U.S. is expected to keep rising in contrast to most nations. This is largely thanks to recent immigrants, who tend to have more children than residents whose families have been in the United States for several generations. Between 2000 and 2050, the 15-to-64 age group in the U.S. is expected to grow 42%. By contrast, the number of number of young and working age people is expected to decline elsewhere: by 10% in China, 25% in Europe, 30% in South Korea, and more than 40% in Japan. So, within the next four decades, most of the developed countries in Europe and East Asia will become veritable old-age homes. That is, a third or more of their populations will be over 65. By then, the U.S. is likely to have more than 350 million people *under* 65.

In fact, most of America's net population growth will be among its "minorities". Latino and Asian populations are expected to nearly triple, and the children of immigrants will become more prominent. Today, in the U.S., 25% of children under age 5 are Latino, but by 2050 that percentage will shoot up to 40%. It is these kids -- largely children of immigrants- who will supporting your ass, Marc, along with all the aging white folks of your generation. I would humbly submit that this is your real hang-up with immigration. And that this is also true of those who share your views whether you call them "economic progressives", conservatives, or what have you. It's the fear of a radically different "America" (North America), one where the faces are no longer predominantly white. An America where immigrants and people of color have more power and clout, while old white guys no longer call all the shots. That's the real fear. And because you are frightened, you are circling the wagons to keep immigrants out or at least in their place (you're okay with low-wage jobs that Americans won't do). But change is coming, it's inevitable, and you can't stop it. I suggest you deal with it.

Posted by Analisa on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

proclaiming disaster because the non-white population is growing thru immigration and the cozy arrangement that whites have had forever is eroding.

That is painful for a 50-something IT professional with dated skills but that does not excuse his racism and xenophobia.

The simple fact is that the US system is blated, and depends on protectionism and trade barriers. Take those away and wealth flows from the US to these other nations and their people.

From a global perspective, that's a good thing. If you're an ageing white male in America, not so much.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Immigration policy should follow the interests of working people here in the US, not of people living in other countries or Wall Street.

So long as there are Americans of all ethnicities who are on the receiving end of corporate dominance policies and so long as there is unemployment rampant amongst existing Americans of all ethnicities, then immigration and economic policy should prioritize the interests of these people FIRST.

I could care less if the US falls between the cracks of India, China or Europe. The more the US declines as a world power, the better off the world will be, the better of Americans will be.

I could also care less if the US population becomes slim minority white. I chose to live in a neighborhood where I was a minority for just that reason.

What I am concerned about is the short-sightedness amongst single issue activists which adds up to a lack of solidarity that throws existing Americans of all ethnicities under the bus for newcomers and corporate profits.

Immigration is a complex area of policy that has no single answer. Some immigration is good for working Americans under some circumstances, some immigration is bad for working Americans under other circumstances.

You don't get to wave away any questions about the complexity of the law by reducing that to xenophobia.

I'd prefer to see us predicate more immigration on ending poverty amongst existing US residents, upon housing existing homeless US residents, upon making health care a right for existing US residents.

Clearly cultural affinity between western cultures in North and Latin America gives northbound immigration different characteristics than eastbound immigration from Asian cultures. Those characteristics are more favorable to my mind.

Unless there are to be no restrictions on immigration, which I don't see anyone calling for, then any restrictions and exemptions are going to have politics behind them. We can't pretend that there are no politics there. And the dominant politics of the day has been systematically screwing American workers for 40 years.

Do you really trust those corporate clowns with the keys to immigration policy just so long as your folks get their due? What about solidarity with everyone else?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

It is not the main aim of US immigration policy to protect the overpaid older white males of this country from the fact that they cannot compete any more.

That is your problem for easing up in mid-life instead of learning new skills and/or accepting different types of work.

You're a dinosaur and you cannot expect the voters to bail you out from your obsolescence.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

Yep, enlightened self interest is self serving by the ACM and IEEE, bastions of stale dinosaurs all.

I'm doing okay, thanks, my skillset is rich. I'm teaching myself graph databases right now.

Engineering is one of the few fields that one can make a decent middle class income without needing an advanced degree or even a degree at all and where the cost of capital is negligible.

It is no wonder that the cheapskate greedy elites who have waged war in working Americans for the past 40 years want to further decimate the American middle class.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

as soon as their meager, overpaid asses are on the line.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

Why should I support amnesty when the people who want me to support amnesty are accepting the h1-b provisions? I'd not oppose amnesty, it is good policy. But I'd oppose a bill with h1-b nonetheless. Perhaps if the amnesty folks had at least taken a stand and given consideration to the h1-b problem, I'd think differently. But this one-way version of solidarity don't cut it.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

Hey, if immigrant activists showed solidarity with American tech workers, then we might show some solidarity with immigration activists. I'm more concerned with "legal" carve outs deployed for economic reasons than with "illegal" immigration from Latin America.

A little reciprocity goes a long way.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

The ladder half expose is interesting in that I doubt that it would sit well with the author (if she is pro-choice) being accused of helping a genocide of black babies as the kooky right has taken to claiming about the pro-choice side.

The purpose of leftist race theory is to put everything in race terms and then dare a person not to agree.

There has been some interesting books over the years around America's history around Nativism, such as Strangers in the Land by John Higham. Most of these ladder day nativists are living in trailers with rebel flags holding back the leaks or on the margin like Pat Buchanan. The people rambling out Wallace race theory are the left these days.

Why the left can't resist the new race theory is odd, there is something pathological about people who insist that everything in the world stems from a few over intellectualized memes.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

Its' not just H1-B's that drive down wages. Reagan signed the original illegal immigration amnesty program as a way to destroy the influence of unions - and he was right! 10 million illegals have driven down wages, and the only unions with any influence are public sector unions. Add some "free trade" agreements, an expensive regulatory environment, and its' surprising that there are any jobs left...except for Government wages, which are so far immune to the market.

Posted by Richmondman on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

Isn't it more important that the cost for businesses competing with foreigners is competitive with tham?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Nope, we need protectionism so that we make sure that we invest in American working people first. Even if the investment is more expensive than importing, we still win by investing at home, betting on ourselves.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

on a level playing field.

I compete with foreigners all the time, have no problem, and unlike you do not constantly whine about being "protected", "subsidized" and "bailed out".

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

other countries who are also paid to post disruptive comments on websites opposed to the ideology of the owners of the economic system.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

being paid to post here.

Oh wait, you do not have any.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

trumpeting uncontrolled immigration there seems to be these huge holes in accounting for the costs. I always enjoy the attacks on Walmart for their sleazy business practices from the left, I fully agree that they are for shit. It's OK to drive down wages for other marginal jobs though?

I guess the answer is to just ask real nice that employers pay higher wages? Good intentions are a bankable script.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

This is just business. But the arguments in favor of it are that libertarian capitalism and "free trade" are good a priori, even though we're being told to take hit after hit on the altar of economic sharia.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

The NSF produced a paper in the 1990s that sought ways to drive down Computer Science PhD wages and H1-B was the tool they picked. Immigration policy has rarely been so demonstrably grounded in an attack on the standard of living of a particular sector of American workers.

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/h1b.html

Yes, other immigration policy has its bearing on wages, but H1-B is the worst. What really gets me is how race dominates progressive politics such that they're willing to work with the most reactionary corporate interests to screw working people economically to win a hand stacked with race cards.

Their role is to deflect any criticism as racist cranky old white guys as they pimp for immigration policies that screw existing American people of color more than any old cranky racist white guys.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

You went to Holland all convinced that they'd be impressed with your silicon valley zip code but what happened? You failed their entry test.

And really, what kind of loser is still coding in their 50's? You're exactly the kind of overpaid dinosaur that the federal government targetted with their immigration policy, because they knew and we knew that we could do much better than overpaying someone like you.

You're done.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

What are you talking about? What else are these 50 year old "losers" supposed to be? managers? You realize there are far fewer positions for management than there are for coders, right? Sheesh.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

your career prognosis is dire since at that age your ability to do the grunt work rapidly decays.

The alternatives are contract work, as and when you can get it. Or starting your own gig.

If you are coding and renting once you hit 50, it's a long hard way down from there.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

I'd studiously avoided management, that is nothing I've reached for. My skills for learning skills are still sharp. I've learned, mastered and deployed more new technologies in the past 12 months than you've ever seen.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

low-level coding job where you suffered the humiliation of taking a test and failing it.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

The free trip to Europe helped me get over that.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Although, this comment is delivered a bit glibly it's right on. I'm going through this exact process right now. Despite consistent praise for the great creative initiative I brought to a series of startups I worked for, I was constantly hobbled my middling coding skills, and never able to rise out of the ranks of production coder. As I approached fifty the frustration caught up with me, and I was no longer to perform even in that capacity. Finally, I had to ditch the tech field (mostly) altogether and start my own thing.

I agree with anon's observations completely. There is a point, and fifty seems a good number, at which you need to reassess, and strike out on something perhaps less grandly ambitious, but by which you can make your own way.

Posted by viciousesque on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

Did you make up the part where I take unsolicited career advice from anonymous trolls on the internet....

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

want to leave your job, are disillusioned with SF and American society has gone the opposite way that you think it should.

You'd still be renting but for a lucky break and have no family to support you.

Your protests just make you sound sadder.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

As if anyone would take seriously one whose life is centered around attacking people anonymously on the internet.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

But if you get in the way and make dumb arguments thate xpose your hypocrisy and malintent, then I may deem it relevant to note that in passing.

Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:11 am

They flew me to Holland, put me up and interviewed me when I was jet lagged, did I miss the part about there being any skin off of my ass on that trip? I don't get hired for every interview I go on here either.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

day to get over the jet lag or flown business class.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

I was not in control of those variables, was unable to change the hand I was dealt, so I had to play that one.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:08 pm
Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:09 am

Hopefully this act will pass. Many people in minority communities don't trust the police because of the record of racial profiling by police that they've seen and experienced. I know that in my own life, police officers haven't been particularly helpful to me in the times I've called them. But hopefully, by addressing ONE problem - the fear of arrest and deportation that many undocumented immigrants have when dealing with the police - this will improve both conditions of life for immigrant communities, and begin to create a more trusting relationship between the police and minority communities in general...

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

xenophobia is not the same as racism.

Proof? Many illegals in SF are Irish or Russian. I personally know two of them. They are not "profiled" but still share the same concerns.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:53 am

Anyone who's taken a simple class in Sociology 101 can tell you that xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment are closely connected to racism. Your own personal anecdotes aside, most immigrants in the Bay Area are Latino and Asian. Particular immigrant communities in particular areas which have a history of racial prejudice - are the ones most prone to hostile encounters with the police. It is simply absurd to suggest that Irish immigrants would have the same fear of retribution from police as Mexican or Salvadorean immigrants.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:18 am

that may not happen so much these days, the point to remember is that bias against race and bias against illegals are two distinct things.

If you want to fight racial discrimination, then that's fine. But fighting for illegals must include the many illegals from the poorer parts of Europe too.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:41 am

If you wish to fight racial bias, that is fine and admirable. But you cannot pretend that racial bias against Europeans exists today in the same form as it did 150 years ago.

I have cerebral palsy, I'm queer, and I'm Scot-Irish. I've been discriminated against because of my disability. In more conservative cities, I've been discriminated against because of my sexuality. I have never, however, been discriminated against because of my ancestry.

The possibility of hypothetical discrimination against white Americans should never be used as an excuse to pretend we live in a race-neutral society. We stil live in a country that DISCRIMINATES against Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and First Nation Americans. It is our duty to rectify this, not to pretend that discrimination is race neutral.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

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